“Neighbors,” Soulmates And Israel

Seth Rogen discusses new film, solves Mideast conflict.

05/13/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent
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Seth Rogen gets down in “Neighbors.” Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures
Seth Rogen gets down in “Neighbors.” Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

Seth Rogen is known as a regular guy, but he hasn’t had a regular career. The 32-year-old actor, writer and director from Vancouver has starred in such films as “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Pineapple Express.” He joined pals Jonah Hill and James Franco in “This Is the End.” In his new film, “Neighbors,” he plays a married man who has to deal with the antics of a fraternity that moved in next door. In a phone interview, Rogen spoke about his bar-mitzvah attire, his one experience with anti-Semitism, and a circumstance in which he might actually save Justin Bieber’s life.

In your new film, you have to deal with being hassled by a fraternity. If you had been in a frat, how would you have hazed people?

I wouldn’t have. I don’t have that in me. It’s horribly cruel.

The film is called “Neighbors.” Of course, Israelis and Palestinians are neighbors and no peace deal has been made. Any advice for negotiators over there?

If the movie is any indicator, doing mushrooms could help.

When was the first time you realized you could attract women using your humor?

Probably not until I was older, in my 20’s. I should have realized it sooner.

You’ve mentioned you met your writing partner Evan Goldberg waiting for bar mitzvah lessons. What was the funniest thing about your bar mitzvah?

I wore a pink shirt and a pink tie. I thought it was cool. I’m not sure why, but I did.

You went on a trip to Israel with your mother. What was that like and what were your impressions of Israel?

I loved it. I went back a year later with friends and I had a better time. I remember thinking they served alcohol to people at a young age. When I went with my mother, the weird thing was everyone thought we were a couple. She was 40. I was 16.

If Justin Bieber and Mel Gibson were dangling from a cliff and you could only save one, which one would you save and why?

I’d save Justin Bieber. He’s still young. There’s still time. When I was pretty young I did some crazy stuff, though I wasn’t quite as detrimental to society.

You went to a Jewish elementary school. Did you joke around a lot?

Yeah, I got into trouble, I had to go to the principal’s office, detention…

With your comedy, when you started your career, did you fail at first and did it take a while to get good, or did you hit it right away?

I was pretty good instantly.

How does it feel to become a star and be part of a group of Jewish actors who have risen to fame?

Well I do work with non-Jewish actors as well. (Laughs) But I mean, yeah, I do feel very fortunate.

Ever experience any anti-Semitism?

Coming out of an elevator in Vegas, Eddie Griffin was yelling at me. He said Jews run Hollywood. He was saying that his career didn’t go in the direction he would have liked.

Because he wasn’t Jewish?

Yeah.

Was he serious?

He seemed pretty angry.

In a street-fight, would you rather have Jonah Hill or James Franco on your side?

James Franco. He’s played a boxer and he knows hand-to-hand combat.

Is it true that Barbara Streisand had a secret crush on you?

I don’t think so.

Your mother in-law suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. You’ve raised a lot of money in starting “Charity For Hilarity.” Why was it important to you to go to Washington to testify before Congress?

I was invited and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. People in the government are ultimately in control of masses of money that can go to research.

You received an Emmy nomination for being a writer on Da Ali G Show. Of all the stuff you wrote for the show, what were you most proud of?

Bruno. Spring break.

Your next film is about assassinating Kim Jong-Un. How’d you come up with that idea?

For years, we had the idea for a famous journalist to go and there were evil people like Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden so we were thinking about who we could use.

Are you worried that he (Jong-Un) will try to kidnap you?

No, I’m not worried.

You have a good security team?

Maybe I will.

Your parents met on a kibbutz. Do you know what it was called?

Beit Alfa.

Is it true that when you proposed to your wife, she was not fully clothed?

Yeah, it was spur of the moment.

Was your father’s proposal anything like that?

I don’t remember the exact story but no, nothing like mine.

Other than yourself whom do you consider to be the funniest person in Hollywood?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone. No one has consistently produced so much material that’s funny and makes me laugh like they have.

You have obviously found your soul mate. But what advice would you have for singles still searching for that special someone?

Join JDate, obviously. And hang in there.

editor@jewishweek.org

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